30 September 2006

Another Valley Metro Bus Blogger!

Got a comment today on my most recent post from a guy named Coach Dave - he writes a blog about his rides on the Valley Metro. His blog can be found at http://davesbusride.blogspot.com/. He's a creative rider and I'm thrilled to read another's experiences riding in this Valley of the Sun - check it out!

Also, while looking at Coach Dave's blog, I found a link to a previoulsy unknown bus blog which led me to another bus blog written by a driver in Torbay, England - Bus Driving is neat - lots of good pictures and you get to hear the driver's side of the story. Definitely worth a visit.

28 September 2006


Back to same old, same old. Except, not exactly. Newspaper Guy (Bill) wasn't there today, but he's never gone for long. Bicycle Guy (Mark) has returned to the regular 6AM66 fold and Dave and I rounded out the BTA. Business as usual prevailed until a review of the riders revealed an abundance of new and different faces with some long familiar and some more recently familiar mixed in the pot. Broadmoor lady boarded and joined us in the BTA. Like trees that lose leaves in the fall and grow new in the spring, bus ridership cycles through change. A core contingent exists, and the rest come and go as life circumstances demand. Feeling a bit reflective today, I guess.

Have taken the 81 home most evenings recently. My timing to catch the 66 just sucks and I'm so glad I have a choice. Always a bigger 6400 class bus, the 81 feels like a workhorse next to the cartoonish quality of the 66. I like the contrast and will probably continue to do the dual route thing for awhile. Gives me that much more potential for blogging material. Last night a man with a white cane got on the bus, talking on his cell phone. He couldn't seem to pay and talk and board all at the same time and, to his credit, he abandoned the call to take care of business. He told the driver where he wanted to get off and then sat down and made his call. When he got off, he apologized profusely to the driver for his lack of attention when boarding. Amazing how a little courtesy leaves such a positive feeling. I might have thought less of him for using the phone, but he recognized the problem and made amends.

27 September 2006


Welcome back, eh? Took off last week to boost Amtrak's earnings for 2006. My mother and I flew to Chicago and trained to Seattle on the Empire Builder, then to Los Angeles via the Coast Starlight and finished back in Maricopa (yes, a train station lives in Maricopa, Arizona) on the Texas Eagle. A nice adventure which I hope to document somewhere on the WWW. While in Seattle, nothing would do but to photograph a bus so I captured this image of one of their articulating craft. Didn't realize a right turn was imminent or would have waited to shoot and display it in full articulation. Note the electric trolly poles on the top! Seattle's streets flourished with buses and the train station held "Sounder" cars - commuter-style trains covering the length of the Puget Sound region. They don't seem quite as enchanted with their autos as Phoenix, but still not as mass transit sophisticated as New York or even Chicago.

Speaking of Chicago, we experienced the death/thrill-ride of a lifetime on the Blue Line! Our pre-train train adventure occurred as we traveled from O'Hare airport to Union Station in downtown Chicago. The trains are much like NY subway cars - a bit shorter perhaps but with that same well-worn, industrial essence. We sat at the end of the next-to-the-last car on the train, right beside the car-connecting mechanisms. Not sure if that combination of car choice and body location worked to enhance the violence of the ride or not. The train would speed up to what felt like 100 MPH and then slam down to 0 MPH in a single intake of breath. While roaring along the track, the car swayed back and forth, in extremis. Envision a game of crack-the-whip and we were the last man attached. An awesome beginning to a train adventure.

Just like riding the 6AM66, I found that people constituted the best part of our train trip. You just gotta love public transportation.

14 September 2006

Believe me, it doesn't matter

Today's post does not discuss today's ride. Last night I experienced my most unique bus ride yet, so prepare for a longer than usual entry.

I worked late and headed for the bus stop about 7:10 PM. The bus "should" arrive at 7:28 but in the evening, schedules seem to get skewed. Luckily (hah!) I left early as the bus came at 7:20. Thus began a ride to remember. When I boarded, oddly, all the wheelchair site seats were set in the fully locked and upright position. This left only the two front seats and the brain trust area open for seating. I hate those front seats, so proceeded to the back where a young couple occupied the rear bench seat. We rode in comfortable silence, south on Mill, adding just one more rider. The bus pulled into the left turn lane to go east on Baseline and stopped for the light.

Suddenly, everything stopped. The lights went out, the air conditioner turned off and the engine became silent. The lights flickered on and off, but no action from the engine. The driver tried to re-start, but nothing worked. The driver opened the doors, said he couldn't identify the problem, didn't know if we would get a mechanic or a shuttle or another bus or what. He said he couldn't let us off the bus since we were in the middle of traffic and he would be liable if any of us got hurt. A very busy intersection, I had already envisioned us inching around the bus to get to the crosswalk area. The young couple and I started chatting - they questioned me extensively about my needle and thread tattoo - the other passenger talked on her cell phone. We relaxed in a what-are-you-gonna-do-about-it attitude and only the driver seemed rattled. Another bus pulled up alongside and I heard that driver ask our driver if we were broken down. Our driver affirmed and the other guy drove away. Turned out, that bus was the next 66 and the jerk eyeball ass driver didn't offer to let us get on his EMPTY bus and continue on our way. Not that it mattered, really, but what in the world happened to customer service?

Eventually, a Tempe police officer arrived to help manage traffic. A large bus, stopped dead in the only left turn lane of a major intersection, seemed worthy of police intervention. He held up traffic so we could get off the bus and the four of us proceeded across Mill and then across Baseline to the next bus stop. I figured I'd just wait for the next 66 as I had no one to call and come get me. The young man from the bus called his father and arranged for a pickup. It turned out that they lived near me so I accepted a ride home. A motorcycle accident blocked the intersection at Rural and Baseline, so the rescuer had to drive down to McClintock to go south. I had him drop me off at Walgreen's - just didn't feel right having him backtrack to my house. I walked home and as I headed west on Guadalupe, what comes rolling up? The next 66. Timing rules everything.

This crazy bus ride produced a lot of interesting interactions. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Aaron and Isha, the young couple. She works at Trader Joe's, so maybe I'll see her some time when I'm shopping. What a disappointing lack of customer service from Valley Metro, though. I think the situation befuddled our driver and his critical thinking skills failed him. He could have asked the next driver to let us on his bus, but we were not on his mind. I guess we were on my mind because I was one of us - perspective. Oh well, get to blog about it and any blogworthy bus experience equals time well spent.

13 September 2006

#41something or other

Geez, I looked but have totally lost the number. Whatever, it was a great discussion day on the bus. Bicycle Guy (Mark) is back on the 6am66 and he and Goatee Guy were talking about bus riding and the city of Mesa.

Apparently Mesa doesn't want to put much money into public transportation, so it really doesn't have many routes and maybe 10 bus stops have benches. GG said he called Mesa to inquire about getting a bench for a stop and whoever he talked to said, "Doesn't that stop have a rock?", referring apparently to a semi large boulder near the bus stop sign. Not sure how many the rock seats, however. Outstanding customer service, eh? BG and GG then went off about an imaginary city council meeting where all the chairs were removed and replaced by a single rock. Also, council members had to walk two miles to get to the meeting. Also, a really large hole was cut in the roof of the council chambers to insure that rain and sun could enter. Also, oops, the meeting must have started early, so they'll have to wait 30 minutes for the next meeting to start.

It was a great discussion; just a shame council people are too busy driving their oversize, gas-guzzling, jerk eyeball trucks to worry about incidentals like public transportation, traffic congestion and the environment. I looked at Mesa's website, and, shockingly, they received an award recently from the EPA for being a "commuter friendly" city. Duh and hello????? Wonder how much the church city paid the EPA to get that award? Gosh, I hate it when I get political. Today's image is supposed to be depressing as in what I get when I think about cities like Mesa and their insulated, isolated, center-of-the-universe policies.

07 September 2006


Wow, it has been a few since my last post. I've become temporarily irregular as a rider and it damages my ability to blog, buswise. Oh well, helps me better understand the comings and goings of others on the 66.

Dave said yesterday the 6am bus never arrived and he had to wait until 6:30. He seemed to think it was an act of rebellion or vengeance on the part of our new regular driver. I didn't quite follow his reasoning. He said it was based on information he received about our driver from other drivers, but that didn't make sense to me and I'm thinking I just didn't hear him correctly. Anyway, when we got on the bus he questioned the driver about yesterday's missing 6am66 and she said the bus broke down. That seems more logical to me than a purposeful plot to upset the rhythm of the 6am66 route.

NG and EG were on the bus today - makes for a great sense of camraderie when everyone is chatting away. We had some rain this morning and ridership was light. People in Arizona behave strangely in the rain. Much ado about getting wet, as though they might melt if a drop of rain hit them. I've heard of people cancelling appointments because they didn't want to go out in the rain. Talk about a failure to understand the logic. That is one mindset I just can't seem to follow. Today's image is detritus. That's what I feel like so that's what you get.